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For atheists, the thought of aliens appears actual. Spiritual individuals doubt it.

(RNS) — Tom Flynn doesn’t consider in God.

He’s much less prepared to say the identical about aliens.

“Given the proof now we have now, I feel it’s extra probably {that a} dispassionate observer would conclude that clever life elsewhere is feasible,” stated Flynn, a science fiction author and editor of the humanist journal Free Inquiry. “Now that’s a really totally different factor from saying little inexperienced males are visiting Earth in UFOs.”

A 2021 study from Pew Analysis discovered that atheists and different nonreligious Individuals are extra probably than their non secular neighbors to be open to the concept that clever aliens exist.

Eighty-five % of atheists and agnostics say their greatest guess is that clever life does exist past Earth. So do 80% of unaffiliated Individuals, also referred to as nones. 

“By a number of measures, Individuals who’re extra non secular are much less prone to say there may be clever life past Earth.” Courtesy of Pew Analysis Middle

Against this, solely 51% of Protestants — and 40% of white evangelicals — are open to the potential of clever aliens. So are about two-thirds of Catholics and mainline Protestants and about half (55%) of Black Protestants.

General, 57% of Christians in the USA say their “greatest guess” is that there’s clever life on different planets. 

Pew’s survey was prompted by the discharge of a report from the Workplace of Nationwide Intelligence, detailing various “unidentified aerial phenomena” and the difficulties concerned in explaining these phenomena.

Curiously, the query of UFOs and their that means scrambles the best way non secular and nonreligious Individuals line up. Catholics (61%) and people who declare no specific non secular identification (59%) are most probably to say UFOs are undoubtedly or most likely an indication of alien intelligence. Atheists (31%) and white evangelicals (35%) are least probably.

General, about 65% % of Individuals say their greatest guess is that clever life exists on different planets. About half (51%) say that UFOs reported by army personnel are undoubtedly or most likely indicators of clever alien life.

The survey additionally discovered that non secular follow impacts how Individuals see aliens. Those that pray typically and frequently attend companies are skeptical in regards to the existence of alien life. Those that don’t pray or attend companies usually are not.


RELATED: Alien life looks more and more likely. Catholics are ready.


Flynn chalks up the distinction between the 2 views to how individuals see the origins of the universe. Many conventionally non secular individuals in the USA, he stated, consider in a single act of creation — the place God created life as soon as and Jesus got here to Earth to redeem individuals as soon as.

As a result of the thought of clever life on different planets undermines a core non secular perception, non secular individuals appear to be much less open to the thought of life elsewhere.

Nonreligious individuals don’t have that constraint, Flynn stated. 

Not like nonreligious individuals, non secular believers usually additionally really feel that human life is exclusive and beloved by a better energy, stated bestselling sci-fi writer John Scalzi. 

“If you happen to consider that, then the concept that there is likely to be different clever life on the market would possibly really feel bizarre, as a result of we wouldn’t be then distinctive and particular and beloved; we’d simply be one other creation,” Scalzi, who’s agnostic, informed Faith Information Service in an e mail.

“If one is just not notably non secular or has a connection to a better energy, then this isn’t a part of one’s pondering, and due to this fact entertaining the thought of clever life elsewhere isn’t as a lot of a problem,” he stated.

Writer Sasha Sagan, who identifies as secular, stated there’s a distinction between being open to the potential of clever life within the universe and being sure that such life exists. She is just not able to embrace the latter with out extra proof.

Sagan, daughter of the famed astronomer Carl Sagan, additionally stated that the concept that life on Earth may need occurred accidentally — and that there will not be different clever life on the market — can add that means to human life as one thing treasured.

“There’s one thing about that that makes … it feels prefer it issues quite a bit to be on this world,” she stated.  

“White evangelicals, atheists skeptical that military UFO sightings are evidence of life on other planets” Courtesy of Pew Research Center

“White evangelicals, atheists skeptical that army UFO sightings are proof of life on different planets.” Courtesy of Pew Analysis Middle

With no proof of alien life within the universe, nevertheless, each side are working purely on perception, in accordance with David Weintraub, professor of astronomy at Vanderbilt College. Whereas scientists have found planets that seem like Earth-like, there is no such thing as a proof, at the least for now, that life exists there.

He suspects that would change sooner or later, pointing to a brand new era of house telescopes that may permit astronomers to look at the atmospheres of distant planets. 

“I can simply think about that inside 100 years we may have studied and surveyed tens of 1000’s and even thousands and thousands of planets round different stars,” he stated. “Then we’ll have some strong numerical proof for or in opposition to the existence of extraterrestrial life. However proper now, now we have nothing.”

Discovering alien life would have  “profound” implications, he stated. 

 “Having actual information that we’re not alone within the universe — I truthfully can’t consider a extra philosophically, theologically profound discovery,” he stated. “It could have huge results on our understanding of our place within the universe.”


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For some, the sheer enormity of the universe makes the potential of alien life extra probably than not.

There are such a lot of stars and so many galaxies, stated Jake Kerr, a science fiction writer and screenwriter from Dallas, that the likelihood of life present elsewhere is sensible. The concept that people are alone in such an enormous universe doesn’t, stated Kerr, who identifies as an atheist.

Kerr stated the vastness of the universe actually got here residence to him after attending the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop, which supplies science fiction writers the possibility to be taught extra about trendy astronomy. Through the workshop, Kerr and different contributors climbed a mountain for an unobstructed view of the evening sky.

Seeing the Milky Method in that setting introduced him to tears, he stated.

“You see the Milky Method in all its undiminished glory and it’s spectacular,” stated Kerr.

Sagan stated that she’d be thrilled to listen to different types of clever life within the universe. For one factor, she stated, people have some issues that we may use a hand with. And the thought of assembly an alien, she stated, could be superb. 

“It nearly brings me to tears excited about it,” she stated. “My first thought would simply be how I want that my father had been right here if that had been to occur, to share in that surprise.”

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